Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The Walking Dead Volume 10: What We Become (2009)
I've been a busy blogging beaver for many months now, but I had no idea it had been over a year since I last read and reviewed my favorite flesh-eating zombie survival horror soap opera comic, The Walking Dead. The previous volume was something of a low point for the series, so I guess I can forgive myself for letting two trades and a solicitation for a third pass me by before finally getting back to it fresh.
Where I might have groaned about our crestfallen protagonist Rick still playing telephone games and having nightmares about the departed, I was instead relieved to have hooks back into the series' status quo after such a lengthy absence. I'd forgotten who all had managed to survive volume eight and regroup, so some reacquainting was due, not to mention reminders that there's a slew of new characters I'm now slightly less prejudiced against. In truth though, Abraham remains the only one making a real impression, as his personal history and escalating tension with Rick are the main driving forces in this edition.
Picking up from last time, the crew continues their slow push toward Washington, D.C. After the fall of their longtime previous home, our survivors need a reason to keep going, but it's clear their psyches and interpersonal relationships have been devastated in the aftermath. When Michonne is your most calm and stable cast member, things have certainly taken an ugly turn. The latter half of the book revolves around Rick and his son Carl returning to their old neighborhood in search of supplies and a loose thread left hanging since the earliest issues of the series. Abraham is in tow, and unsurpringly, things take a turn for the grimmer and barely let up.
Never moreso has it been clearer that the walking dead of the title are not the zombies, but the increasingly disturbed humans barely getting by. Where last time, Rick's whining and delusions seemed regrettably indulgent, it now is apparent that he's just succumbing to the psychological traumas that have plagued the weaker cast members in the past, but now leave even the most hardened unscathed. Coming full circle back to Rick's starting point illustrates how terrible things have gotten, and how the hopelessness of the situation is unsettling everyone to the point where it's tough to feel safe in the company of even the oldest, most comfortable cast members. As an added bonus, we finally get the classic "ghouls breaking into a house" sequence that dates back to the granddaddy of this genre, Night of the Living Dead.
Long time readers know Kirkman writes this book in cycles. Here We Remain was his dull, talky establishing of a new status quo. What We Become is the slow burning development of the current conflicts, and it ends on a build toward the inevitable shitstorm in volume 11. Luckily, now that I'm back on the book, I'm just a bit of reading time away from seeing how that plays out. After all, despite the failings of the last edition, The Walking Dead remains consistently the best series on the stands, and I buy each new collection without hesitation or remorse.
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